Do you happen to remember that 1960s western movie starring Clint Eastwood entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? A person either liked or disliked the movie, so commenting on the movie itself is fruitless; but I am fascinated with the title. It reflects what I have observed during the past few weeks.
First, the good. Our church was closed the first Sunday in 2023 due to too many people struggling with either the flu or covid, so I attended a similar church nearby where I live. I'm a little sensitive to law enforcement issues, so I quickly noticed that one of the restricted parking spaces was marked for "Security." Since I hadn't seen a similar parking place, I inquired from the pastor if they had someone designated for security purposes. He quickly affirmed that this was true but was a little reluctant to say just who it was. Upon personal inquiry, I discovered that the chief of police for Springdale was the security officer for the church. Can you imagine? A police chief attending church and providing security. That's great.
A couple of days later, I attended a Bentonville High School event to support our granddaughter, who is a cheerleader for the basketball team. As it turned out, our daughter was assisting with the snack bar that night, so, of course, we had to purchase something. She then introduced me to a gentleman who was also helping out and turned out to be the chief of police for Bentonville. Apparently, his daughter also is a cheerleader. Now, frankly, I have seen a lot of different people working snack bars at athletic games, but really, the chief of police? I was impressed, even more so because he was a really nice guy.
With nothing more to do, we watched the basketball game and cheered along with our granddaughter. Then, I noticed something really strange: The head coach for the Bentonville boys' team was a woman. Now, I recognize that I have very limited knowledge about coaches, but to the best of my knowledge, I do not believe I have ever seen a woman coaching a men's basketball team. I have seen men coaching women's teams but not women coaching men's teams. Not only that, she did an excellent job, and her team won. Again, I was impressed -- and pleased.
Well, so much for the good. I didn't see as much that was bad during the past week or so, but I did notice a few things. For instance, I noticed too many people who had all of the symptoms of covid running around as if they had a bad cold. Yes, a sick person should take care of himself or herself, but what about also taking care of the people around you? I wore a mask on the second Sunday of this year at church, not because I was sick, but because I didn't want to catch whatever someone around me had. I do believe in sharing but not in sharing everything.
Referencing the above-mentioned basketball game, I also felt bad about the male coach of the opposing team. One of his players hit the floor very hard right in front of me and could not get up for several minutes. Not only that, he could not even sit down for a much longer time. What did the coach do? Nothing! No one except fellow players even helped the poor guy off the court. Now, to be fair, perhaps the basketball player was faking it (we do see a lot of that these days), but I actually felt the vibration when he fell. Finally, after several minutes, a woman (perhaps his mother) from the stands went over and checked on him. I thought this process was bad.
Then, there's the ugly. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed 15 (yes, 15) votes on the speaker of the house motion in congress before someone was elected, and then by one vote. It was history in the making, and I had to watch it, but I did not have to enjoy it. I guess you almost have to give away your soul to be elected as speaker of the house, but after such an arduous battle and winning by only one vote, how do you celebrate? I felt sorry for the women calling the roll call. After a few ballots, I don't know why they didn't just use a copying machine.
No matter how you describe it, all of that balloting did nothing to help the Republican party. And, to make matters worse, apparently, the congressional people who held up the process were Trump endorsees, and he was calling them on the side. Upon winning the speaker's job, the new speaker of the house did not hesitate to give credit to former President Trump for his victory. So, now we have a congress controlled by a speaker who gave away a big part of his soul to obtain a victory and a congress heavily controlled by people loyal to Trump.
Wow! I would also conclude the ugly by pointing out that these same congressional leaders were present among those trying to overthrow our democracy and are still denying that Jan. 6, 2021, was anything more than a peaceful protest.
Now, I don't know how you feel, but I really like the good mentioned, wonder a lot about the bad, and am really distressed about the ugly.
Robert Box has been a law enforcement chaplain for 30 years. He is a master-level chaplain with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and is an endorsed chaplain with the American Baptist Churches USA. He also currently serves as a deputy sheriff chaplain for the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Opinions expressed are those of the author and not the agencies he serves.